Asia Cup 2018: Broadcaster, sponsors force change in match timings

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The Asia Cup 2018 organisers have rescheduled the timings of the matches as the broadcaster and Indian sponsors were not comfortable with the late start of the games, which were scheduled to start at 3:30 pm Dubai and Abu Dhabi time (5 pm India time). All the matches will now start at 2 PM in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (3:30 pm India time).

The broadcast for the earlier schedule, with the wrap around show, would have gone well past midnight. This certainly would not have fetched the right value for the money and efforts put in by the sponsors and broadcaster. However, the good sense has prevailed and the organisers have advanced the start of the games by an hour and a half.

The Asia Cup 2018 is generating more interest than ever among all the stakeholders for a number of factors. There is a good likelihood that India and Pakistan might meet each other thrice in the span of a mere 12 days. The revised format of the tournament has made at least two India-Pakistan games a near certainty while a possible showdown in the final on September 28 can potentially become their third meeting in the Asia Cup 2018.

The Asia Cup this year will have 50-over-a-side games while the Super Four Round has been introduced in the Asian regional cricket championship for the first time ever. The top two teams from Group A and Group B will play each other in the Super Four Round to decide the two semi-finalists. The schedule has given all the stakeholders an advantage of four more games with a strong possibility of the second encounter between India and Pakistan, who are scheduled to play their first Group Stage match on September 19.

It can’t be bigger than the scenario of three possible India-Pakistan ties over 12 days for the passionate Indian cricket fan, broadcaster and marketing heads of the brands looking to make an impact for their products. The match timing was one major glitch, which held the threat of commercially devaluing the major event, too has been cured now.

There is excitement in the air. “India and Pakistan are scheduled to play at least twice in the Asian Cup. Then there is a strong likelihood of the two teams meeting in the final. This will generate an unprecedented interest in the market. Given the current form of the Pakistan team and the fact that they have won the Champions Trophy final during two arch rivals’ last meeting, each of the India-Pakistan game in the Asia Cup will have an extremely high intensity. The fact that the two teams can potentially meet thrice in just 12 days gives a unique opportunity to the brands which are eyeing to  make an impact, or planning to launch new products around this time,” says Arshad Nizam Shawl, director and co-founder of Alliance Advertising and Marketing, India’s leading media buyers in sports.

“With Indian Premier League’s unprecedented success on Star Sports network, this Asia Cup is going to get more commercial values than the earlier editions,” adds Arshad. “The earlier planned start time for the matches was a major concern, which held the threat of devaluing this hot property. The traction even for the India-Pakistan games might not have sustained that late at night. I will say good sense has prevailed and with the redressal of the issue there is going to be a surge in demand for these games.”

The six-team competition will feature India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. But nothing can match the intensity of an India-Pakistan game. “Looking ahead towards the Asia Cup, India and Pakistan are the favourites. Both the teams have been playing some excellent one-day cricket,” says former Australian cricket star Mike Hussey, a Star Sports commentator for the Tamil Nadu Premier League.

“I’ll be talking a little bit about Fakar Zaman from Pakistan. Of late, he has been displaying great playing form and no one can ever forget his century against India in the ICC Champions Trophy. He is an exciting player. He attacks, locks the scores quickly and backs himself with no fear. He can score all around the ground. India needs to play a disciplined game against Fakar. They need to build up the pressure with some dot balls and make him go for the big shot earlier than perhaps what he wants to do. I think, some change of pace could work against him because he goes for hard balls and taking the pace off the ball could be advantageous,” adds Hussey.

Latest form of the Pakistan team and the class of the Men in Blue are not the only factors adding to the excitement of the Asia Cup. The scheduled of the tournament, which allows each team the room to make a comeback, also make this continental cricket championship more intriguing.

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